The 10th ContentAsia Summit, held in Singapore on 28-29 August, was attended by TV broadcasters, online video companies, content producers and distributors, who came together to discuss issues impacting the region’s content business.
Among the key takeaways from the event were:
- International content is selling in larger volume in Japan and China now thanks to interest from online video companies
- Emerging technological advances in Asia are expected to make content trading more efficient in the long run
- In Southeast Asia, free-to-air TV has started to invest in original web content and plays a key role to help pay TV channels to promote original programming
Firstly, there has been a rising demand for international content in Japan and China, particularly from online video services. Hulu Japan’s acquisition of Russian, Turkish, and Spanish drama series is unprecedented, and received encouraging viewership, according to the Nippon TV-owned platform. China’s online video service Youku has also acquired the rights to Netflix drama Black Mirror for its subscription service.
Secondly, technological advance had been introduced to aid content distribution; however, it is still nascent in this region. Companies like TRX, BlockPunk and Vuulr were at the conference to discuss whether TV content can be traded more efficiently using blockchain technology. The business still lacks market standardisation in terms of currency and operating procedure now; however, its ability to provide information in real time will benefit content buyers and sellers in the long run.
Thirdly, free-to-air TV remains robust in Southeast Asia. In markets like Indonesia and Vietnam where pay TV penetration and propensity to pay for subscription is low, free-to-air TV is a key platform for pay TV to market programming. For instance, Sony collaborated with HTV to promote pay channel AXN’s programming Asia’s Got Talent on the Vietnamese free-to-air TV channel. Despite the sluggish TV advertising market, FTA broadcasters in the region have started to acquire original web content to premiere on their advertising-funded channels. For instance, Malaysia’s Media Prima has acquired three original titles from PCCW’s Viu online subscription service to premiere on NTV7.
Despite the promising outlook, the industry warned of a lack of creativity in Chinese content production as TV companies and online video services prioritise ratings and viewership. According to IHS Markit, China TV programming spend will grow at CAGR of 25% in the next five years thanks to the fierce competition among online video players and promising viewership of super dramas such as Story of Yanxi Palace (延禧攻略) and Guardian (镇魂). However, Hong Kong-based production veteran Peter Tsi warned that the chase for audiences might jeopardise creative freedom.